Mercedes in which Amritpal Singh fled owned by drug dealer
The Mercedes SUV, which fugitive Khalistani advocate and Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh used to evade the police on Saturday, is reportedly registered in the name of a drug dealer identified as Ravel Singh. Singh was reportedly in the car when the Punjab Police pursued him two days ago, but he ditched it later and fled through country roads on a motorcycle.
Why does this story matter?
- Singh is reportedly a radical preacher and a proponent of the separatist Khalistan movement. Intelligence agencies claim he is an agent of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) brought to spread violence in India.
- On Saturday, the Punjab Police launched a manhunt nearly a month after Singh and his supporters attacked Punjab's Ajnala Police Station with swords and guns to free one of their arrested aides.
Amritpal reportedly moved around in same SUV
According to reports, Ravel gifted Singh the SUV, which he drove around and used to greet supporters through the sunroof. On Saturday, nearly 60 police vehicles intercepted Singh's convoy and hit one of his SUVs during a chase. Seven of Singh's armed guards were apprehended in two cars at the front of the convoy, but Singh escaped in the third.
Previous reports said SUV owned by BJP leader
Surprisingly, several media reports earlier claimed that the said SUV belonged to a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader by the name of Premnath Mehani. He allegedly sold it to a dealership in Delhi called T&T Motors, which was then purchased by Delhi resident Amit Verma for his used car sale-purchase business. Later, Ravel, a resident of Tarn Taran, bought the SUV from Verma.
Ravel previously identified as agriculturist
Prior to the police action, Ravel said he bought the car on behalf of his NRI brother Randhir Singh for Rs. 60 lakh and paid Rs. 5-6 lakh as road tax to the Punjab government, The Indian Express reported. He claimed he gave away the vehicle for "Guru ki sewa" (religious charity) until his brother arrived. Ravel earlier identified himself as an agriculturist.
Since Singh's return, drug transportation using drones surged
Security agencies claimed that Singh had been using drug rehabilitation centers and a gurudwara for stockpiling arms and "brainwashing" youngsters to become human bombs. Reportedly, there were no doctors at a rehab center, and Singh procured substandard drug antidotes, which worsened inmates' dependency. The police claim that since his return to Punjab, the number of drones carrying drugs across the border has gone up.
Singh worked as truck driver in Dubai
Before returning to India last year, Singh reportedly worked as a truck driver in Dubai, where he had links with Jaswant Singh Rode, whose brother Lakhbir was allegedly involved in transporting narcotics from Pakistan to India. Reports also claimed that Singh was allegedly trying to form a militant outfit, the Anandpur Khalsa Force (AKF), on the lines of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF).